In the long winter months, Zoe Bartel sometimes goes days without seeing the sun.
The swimmer, who has already qualified for Olympic Trials once before, finds herself swimming laps well before dawn. After the final bell rings, she’s back on the grind. That’s before she even starts her homework.
As she prepares to graduate from Fossil Ridge High School and head off to Stanford University, Zoe is grateful for the lessons she’s learned about balancing her intense training regimen with school and her personal life.
It hasn’t always come easy.
She’s the type of student to take on a lot – this year, she took advanced placement biology and calculus III, for example. Her sophomore year, she decided the load might be too much, and she opted out of her school’s swim team. She agonized over whether she should return the next year.
She spent that winter cutting back on her training days and went skiing on the weekends.
“Actually, skiing helped me,” she said. “I’ve gone back country skiing, and you’ve got to do the work to get to the good stuff. You can enjoy it in the process.”
She decided to return to the Fossil Ridge swim team and had some of the best meets of her life. Now that she’s recaptured that joy she feels when swimming, she’s got her eye on 2020. Heck, maybe even 2024.
“You just have to take it step by step and make it something that’s going to make you happy,” she said. I realized that when I’m happy and in the pool, I can swim really well.”